Second, the election is likely to turn on industrial swing states. So why not add to the list some feistier names with proven track record of appeal to blue-collar voters and conservative principles? Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both fit the bill.
Toomey would be an interesting choice and would certainly give disaffected conservatives someone to rally behind, but his election victory in 2010 over Joe Sestak was a very close-run thing, and his job approval numbers are nothing special. It’s not clear that he would give the ticket any direct electoral advantages in the Midwest. The case against Kasich is more straightforward: significantly more people in Ohio disapprove of him than approve. If Kasich isn’t adding anything to the ticket in Ohio, what is the advantage of choosing him?
Looking over the National Journal list of possible running mates, I find just one name that makes no sense: Thune. He doesn’t add anything that I can see. Why would Romney want a pro-TARP running mate whose main claim to fame in the party is that he defeated Tom Daschle eight years ago? All of the other suggestions are plausible enough. Portman is from Ohio, he endorsed Romney before South Carolina, and unlike Kasich his job approval is positive. If the VP nominee ends up coming from this list, I would guess that Portman is the most likely to get the nod.